Two Blondes on a Build Story #1: What the bleep have we done?

Hello friends,

This short film is the first in a series of Two Blondes on a Build video blogs that I mentioned in my earlier blog post Two Blondes on a Build: In the beginning. In the coming weeks we will share with you our progress towards realising our dream of going off grid by building an eco home and starting a permaculture garden on a rock in a forest in the foothills of Mount Tuam on the south side of Salt Spring Island, one of the Southern Gulf Islands in the Salish Sea, British Columbia, Canada.

Click on the embedded link below to watch the first story.

The full video transcript

Sarah: Imagine an island surrounded by the Salish Sea, where its mighty mountains stretch upwards to reach the radiant sun, overlooking lush and fertile valleys. Sparkling lakes beckon you to take a dip in their cool and refreshing waters. The warmth of the sun gives this island a mild, maritime climate, often one of the warmest in Canada, making it the perfect home for a myriad of creatures, including just over ten thousand humans, who live alongside numerous other sentient beings.

The main town of Ganges has a laid back feel to it. It is a harbour town that takes its name from HMS Ganges. It has been welcoming salties of all kinds from all over the world for many years. Other adventurers can arrive by air.

Faeries dwell alongside mermaids, who watch over all the comings and goings. Gulls cry, imploring you to come and explore this magical waterfront and the sea strand. This harbour was where my husband Brett and I got married four years ago in 2016. We decided to have a simple civil ceremony onboard our boat, Theros, which was tied up at the dock here on Kanaka Wharf. It was a beautiful July day and after our ceremony we took our guests out for a sail around the bay.

We spent the early days of our married life on board Theros, moored in front of the Sea Horse. The harbour was our first home together and holds a special place in our hears. We left this place the following year to embark on the first leg of our round the world sailing adventure, which took us over 8,000 nautical miles via the Pacific Coast, Central America, through the Panama Canal, across the Western Caribbean and up the Atlantic Coast to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. We will continue our voyage one day, for the sea always lures us into her embrace and the sunlight sparkling on water lifts our souls to a higher place.

But for now, at this present moment, we are content to dwell here for a while in this small corner of Canada, where there is a strong sense of service, community spirit and creativity. Where there are vibrant rainbow colours and you are guaranteed the warmest of welcomes in the best coffee shop in town. Where the residents are proud of their identity, diversity and inclusion, as well as their deep love of and care for nature and the environment. Where you will find wind sculptures and treasure troves of great literature and the local hardware store, where everyone knows you by name. In the park, musicians rub shoulders with organic farmers, healers and artists and you might glimpse a piano that has been released into the wild and is now as free as the birds.

“Hi, I‘m Brett and I’m Sarah and we’re Two Blondes on a Build”.

Brett: We‘re in the process of building a house on a piece of land on Salt Spring Island and it‘s kind of a strange way we ended up with it. We decided during our sailing journey that we would like to have a piece of property to come back to for the time when we are not sailing and so we decided to look on Salt Spring Island, my son and his family live there and we would be close. We went off and hunted around the island to see what was available.

Sarah: Yeah, we saw several lots at that time, it was the summer of 2018, but the problem was that many of the lots on Salt Spring were very, very expensive and we couldn’t even look at a place that had a house already built on it, because it was way out of our budget, so our choice was limited anyway but when we went to the south side of the island and we turned up at the lot and walked around it, we just fell in love with it.

Brett: It was an interesting time, because you know we looked at several lots and walked onto lots and found all sorts of issues and they were a huge amount of money and then we found this one and it was more than we could afford but we thought, why not see what it is like anyway. We walked up to the top of the lot and we found the knoll and just looking at it we were thinking, God, you know we could build a beautiful house here and it will be private and yet, we would be in nature, there were deer there, it was just an amazing piece of property. But we realised that it would cost a huge amount to put a road in if we tried to hire someone to do it, so we put in a pretty cheeky offer, a pretty low offer on the premise that it would cost us a lot to put a road in and then went away and thought, yeah they’ll never take it and they did! So there we were with this lot and it was going to be a lot of fun but we were off to do other things. We had a house in England to sell, we decided to go and walk another Camino, we were packing up the house and storing a lot of stuff. Then we ended up coming back almost a year later and we stood at the bottom of the lot…

Sarah: …And looked up and simultaneously we turned to each other and said at exactly the same time…

Brett and Sarah: What the f@*$ have we done/(bought)!

Sarah: And this is because, during that year, we had actually forgotten just how steep and how rocky and how challenging this build could be.

Brett: But once you are there, well you have to make some choices, so this old guy, who hadn’t run heavy equipment in 50 or 60 years decided to, hey, I’ll just go and buy an excavator and put a road in and that was the start of our story on our lot.

Sarah: And at least my husband has built several houses before but I’m a complete novice, I didn’t know anything about house building but anyway, I was up for the adventure and the challenge and we both just love that piece of land, it’s magical, it has a special energy about it, it is teeming with wildlife and the trees are just magnificent and the added bonus is that it is next to an ecological reserve so it is very quiet and an area of biodiversity and also we are just a few minutes walk down the road to the beach.

Brett: Which we do on a regular basis and it has become our little bit of sanctuary from all of the things that are going on in the world right now and this is the beginning of this long tale of ours in Two Blondes on a Build.

Sarah: But for now, sit back and enjoy this view of Fulford Harbour, round the headland from Isabella Point Road and in subsequent stories we will share with you our progress, the highs and lows, the successes and challenges of our build, but before we do come and take a walk with us and we will show you around. OK folks, so this is Isabella Point Road, across the way from me, there are our neighbours look, this is a beautiful farm. Behind the farm is the ocean on the south side of Salt Spring. Ahead of me there is literally the end of the road and our car there. Up ahead are all the trails to Mount Tuam and then there is our lot.

Right, well I thought I’d just take you all on a little walk. This is our daily walk that we do several times a day…we are just beginning to make a very rough footpath to get up to the back of the lot at the moment. As you can see, it is quite steep. There are loads of trees everywhere. You can tell how unfit I am, I am already out of breath. Oh, it looks like Eeyore has left us a bit of a present, I don’t know whether the donkey’s name is called Eeyore but it is a bit like being in a hundred-acre wood here. This bit is really steep.

I feel like I am in a nature documentary. Welcome to Middle Earth, the Hobbits are sleeping, they are shy creatures, but as the Dwarves know, they are very hospitable creatures when you get to know them. Right, now this is the first level. Now, in here, through this stand of trees, x marks the spot, and a bit of blue tape down there, this will probably be where we will drill for water in a few months time. We had a guy called Old Albert over, who is known for well witching, he is in his eighties now. Anyway, he came up here with his applewood branch, his divining rod and reckons anywhere along this gulley here we should be alright for drilling for water. We shall see. That’s still a few months down the line, as we have to build a roadway, or rather a driveway up to get a drilling truck up this far, which will be hugely challenging but anyone, who knows us well, knows that we love a challenge.

Look at these rocks, aren’t they awesome, and we continue going up. This is the shortcut, well kind of, up through the clefts in the rock, and it opens out onto another level, just through there is the top of the grassy knoll, where we hope to do our build. This is where we have set up camp, for now, you see those cement blocks over there? I brought those up one by one yesterday, it nearly killed me. So he we are!

Brett: There is nothing better than a glass of wine and an open fire on a beautiful mountain hillside.

The Music

In this video I have used some music clips from the YouTube Audio Library. Here they are in running order:

1. Across the Pier – VYEN

2. Hulu Ukulele – Chris Haugen

3. Not Impossible – the 126ers

4. Barrel Full of Sea Monkeys – The Whole Other

5. First Time Experience – Nate Blaze

Note that all photos, video clips and narrative are original works © Sarah Justine Packwood and James Brett Clibbery, December 2020.

We hope you enjoy this first instalment of our adventure in eco-homesteading! Feel free to leave comments or questions below or to share this video link with others and please don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Thanks for watching!

Peace, love and light,

Sarah xxx


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